As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait a bit. It’ll change. Don’t like that it’s 80 degrees in January? Just wait a week or two for another Arctic freeze to blow in. Don’t like the below freezing temperatures? It’ll hop back up to 60s before you know it.
But this weather yo-yo isn’t great for our skin. “Our skin likes consistency,” says Ramya Kollipara, a cosmetic dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology. “When the weather goes back and forth, our skin also struggles.”
When it’s warm and humid, all that moisture can cause oiliness. But when it’s dry and cold, that can cause dehydration, inflammation, irritation, and a breakdown of our skin barrier.
But there are things you can do to protect your skin. So, we asked Kollipara to answer all our burning winter skincare questions.
What happens to my skin during the winter?
The dry, cold weather can cause the topmost layer of the epidermis, which serves as a protective barrier, to break down. “That triggers a lot of skin diseases, especially in wintertime with psoriasis and eczema,” Kollipara says. Our skin is more prone to itchiness and rashes, especially on the hands or around the eyes. The “eyelid skin is pretty thin, very sensitive,” she says. But you can apply Aquaphor or Vaseline to the eyelid area at night to lock in moisture and help repair the skin area there.
Hot water can also further dry out your skin. To help keep your skin hydrated, Kollipara recommends showering in lukewarm temperatures, and keep it to about 10 minutes. As soon as you get out of the shower or bath, you should moisturize. A humidifier at night helps, too. If you do have a rash, though, it might be time to consult a dermatologist.
Do I need to change my skin routine when the weather changes?
Because your skin is drier, your skin doesn’t always tolerate the same products in the winter as it does in the summertime, Kollipara days. She recommends switching to a thicker moisturizer in the winter, after the first cold snap. Because the weather bounces back and forth so frequently, especially in Dallas, she admits deciding what constitutes the ‘first cold snap’ can be hard. “But I usually recommend around late October so to switch to a little bit of a thicker moisturizer,” she says. You could also add a hydrating serum or gel. Then, “in the spring, usually around late March, is a good time to switch back.”
What products should I be using?
Kollipara likes CeraVe’s A.M. and P.M. moisturizers for most of the year, especially if your skin is oily. They’re good lightweight moisturizers, but they might not provide enough hydration in the colder months. She recommends switching from a lighter CeraVe to La Roche-Posay’s Double Repair. Cetaphil is a good brand for sensitive skin as well. For the rest of the body, she recommends Vaseline. Or, if that’s too greasy for you, La Roche-Posay’s Lipikar Balm AP+ body cream, which is “a nice, thick balm that restores your skin barrier.”
What about my retinol or retinoid?
In general, Kollipara likes her patients age 15 and up to use a retinol or retinoid on a regular basis year-round. The vitamin A cream prevents acne and wrinkles and improves texture. However, retinols can dry out your skin, and some people can’t use the same retinol in the winter as they do in the winter.
“When it gets really dry, most people either have to back off, take breaks here and there, or have to alternate them,” she says. “Or maybe just switch to a gentler retinol or maybe take a break for a month or two until it’s spring again.”
Should the products we use change depending on our age?
In general, Kollipara’s winter skincare advice is the same, regardless of age: Make sure your skin doesn’t dry out by moisturizing, avoiding hot showers, using a humidifier, and more. But, she says, your skin gets drier as you age. So, she recommends for older folks to use a thicker moisturizer, which might cause oiliness and acne in her younger patients. She likes SkinCeuticals’ Triple Lipid Restore. “It has lipids and ceramides in it that are really good at hydrating the skin.”
Are there any treatments I should get in this weather?
A lot of laser procedures are better to get done in winter months, Kollipara says, because during recovery you typically have to avoid the sun as much as possible. “So [it’s] easier to do in the wintertime versus summertime.” Plus, there are plenty of procedures that can help with pigmentation, lighten sunspots and dark spots, and build collagen. Kollipara also recommends fillers, which are often made with hyaluronic acid, because they can “help hydrate the skin as well.” Some fillers are even made to primarily boost hydration.
Is there a basic skincare routine everyone should follow?
There are tons of different factors that go into building someone’s skincare routine, like their age, whether they’re acne prone, if they have sensitive skin, and so on. Overall, though, it’s better to keep the regime simpler, Kollipara says. “The more products that you add on, the more likely you are to get allergic reactions or acne where it causes more problems than it helps.”
In general, though, she recommends a retinol at night, vitamin C in the day, and, of course, “a good sunscreen is the kind of the cornerstone of all good skincare.”